New Fashion Mistakes In The Office

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You want to show off your summer finery for your colleagues, but can't shake the thought: Even in our new age of casual work dress, does this semi-translucent blouse/5-inch platform-wedge sandal cross the line?

In many industries, there are no clear dress codes anymore. Popping colors, statement dresses, and logo tees have infiltrated offices, just like "wellness" seminars and workers "on contract." But are there still any hard-and-fast rules to help the workers of 2013 minimize morning sartorial angst? What are the new trends raising eyebrows? Should workers try to conform or express their truth? And how should you handle a co-worker or employee whose "Female Body Inspector" tee or pleather mini makes you feel weird inside?

We tackled these questions in Friday's "Lunchtime Live," AOL Jobs' weekly video series, with the help of two experts: Cristina Desposito, the fashion editor at Redbook magazine and Gina Martini, from the team at the fashion and beauty blog Stylelist.

We discuss everything from the rules on heels, shorts, and visible bra straps to how often you can repeat an outfit at work per month. On flip-flops, Desposito says: "I think in general, as a rule of thumb, if you would ever even consider wearing them to the pool, they're probably not right for the office."

For more tips, watch the highlights reel above, or view the full half-hour segment.

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New Fashion Mistakes In The Office

You can buy some pretty boutique flip-flops these days (like this pair for $18,000, which helps save the rainforest). But most flip-flops are as basic as the thong footwear of our most ancient ancestors, and as inappropriate for the office as the loincloth they were often paired with. Well, definitely not as inappropriate as a loincloth, but same idea. 

You bought it with your buddies on a beach vacation you hazily remember, and still think it's hilarious. "One Tequila, Two Tequila, Three Tequila, Floor," "FBI Female Body Inspector," "If You See Da Police, Warn A Brother." Who comes up with that stuff? Let's hope they're paid gobs. And while the T-shirt's witty slogan might make you feel like a boss as you stroll down the sidewalk, your actual boss will think you look like a silly man. 

There might be some occasions where a giant glittery D&G is appropriate, but there's no need to copyedit a report in a sweater that screams, "I cost $1,200."

Of course, certain heritage logos in certain places are completely fine; few people are scandalized by a Chanel quilted bag.

Knickerbockers were classic clothing through the 19th and early 20th century -- for little boys. And shorts have never totally shaken that stigma. While Tom Ford may still contend that shorts are only for the beach or the tennis court, men can now feel the breeze against their calves in most places without getting strange looks. The office, however, is the final frontier. 

You're a busy man/woman, and don't have time to dry every strand of hair before hustling out the door. And the "wet look" is a thing, right? Unfortunately, wet hair can also give the impression that you just tumbled out of bed, and don't give an enough of a doodle about your day job to groom to completion. Best to stay safe and dry.

Policing cleavage makes sense; it's the edge of an erogenous zone. Policing thigh exposure makes sense; it's inching very close to a very serious erogenous zone. But the taboo around stomach display is a little less logical. Perhaps it's because decolletage and the above-the-knee area have been on-show, to various degrees, for centuries. Seeing a lady's stomach, on the other hand, was something usually reserved for intimate encounters.

Society hasn't fully adapted yet to a hint of stomach outside of the beach, athletic contests, and night clubs. And despite the gleaming on-display abs of the 1990s, midriff-baring clothes haven't yet made it as appropriate workplace wear. 

It peeks out from the side of your dress strap, a titillating clue to what lies beneath, a glimmer of your more intimate, sensual undergarment-wearing self. That is what a visible bra strap signals, and that is not a signal that you want to project in the workplace. And you know an interesting thing about "nude" bra straps? Humans can still see them. Nude is not, in fact, a color with a light-reflecting frequency outside the visible spectrum. 

From the front, you are an all-professional woman, well-groomed and put-together, conservative, perhaps even severe. And then you turn around and BAM! That's a girl ready for a night on the town! You can see at least 28 of your 33 vertebrae! Backs are not sexualized terrain like cleavage, or thighs, or even stomachs. But still, a plunging neckline on either side of your person is probably best saved for after-hours.

"Barefoot" shoes have a lot of disciples, who claim the thin souls and toe-divisions leverage the body's natural biomechanics, reduce the risk of running injuries, and improve posture, balance  and agility. But the barefoot revolution hasn't hit the office yet. And it's probably wise to avoid any piece of clothing that 50 percent of the population finds creepy-looking. 

Rips and tears have strutted plenty of catwalks, with their "screw society," anti-authority chic.  But most workplaces want you to like society and authority. So rips and tears, even carefully crafted by Parisian designers, are best left for your weekends of sticking it to the man.
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